Tomi Olatunbode, CEO of Spazio Ideale, took a direct approach during her keynote address at the Homex Exhibition in Lagos by engaging with the industry’s unsung heroes – the artisans, contractors, and furniture makers who form the backbone of the West African interior design landscape as a means of addressing sustainability at the foundational level.
Olatunbode, in her speech, fostered an environment where they could actively participate in the sustainable design movement. In her session titled “From Concept to Reality; Case Studies of Sustainable Interior Design Projects in West Africa,” Tomi painted a vivid picture of the region’s abundant natural resources and underscored the immense potential of sustainable design to transform the environment and society positively.
She urged the audience- which included industry experts, trade dealers, Licensed Electrical Contractors of Nigeria (LECAN) and the Professional Carpenters and Furniture Makers Association of Nigeria (PCFA) to wholeheartedly embrace sustainability as a cornerstone of their work
An emphasis on the urgent need for Nigerian interior designers, contractors, and furniture makers to take ownership of sustainable design practices; She spoke about how her interior design company; Spazio Ideale, prioritises sustainable design options in all their projects
Sustainability, Olatunbode emphasised, should not be relegated to an afterthought but rather seamlessly integrated into the very fabric of every project. She outlined the benefits of sustainable design, highlighting improved indoor air quality, reduced energy consumption, and the promotion of local craftsmanship, all of which contribute to a more sustainable future and a better economy.
Addressing the attending LECAN and PCFA members, she issued a clarion call for rebranding and elevating the quality of their work, ensuring that sustainability is seamlessly embedded within their projects as well as imploring members to assume the role of vanguards, educating clients about the advantages of sustainable design options.
“You are the pioneers of sustainable design, you have the power to convince and sensitize clients about the transformative potential of sustainable design,” Olatunbode said.
Olatunbode also highlighted the work of Diébédo Francis Kéré, a Burkinabe architect who has become the first African and the first black person to be awarded architecture’s highest international honour, the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Kéré is known for his innovative use of locally sourced materials and commitment to sustainable design principles.
His work has been praised for its aesthetic, functionality, and social impact. The inclusion of Kéré’s work as an example of excellence in sustainable design sends a message that sustainability is not just an option, but an essential element of good design.
The session reflected the growing interest in sustainable design in West Africa. It serves as a clear message that the industry should integrate sustainability as a core principle, not just a consideration, in shaping the future of interior design. With the region’s rich natural resources and the strong commitment of its design professionals, West Africa is positioned to become a leader in sustainable design, making a significant impact on the world.